Showing posts with label sculpey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sculpey. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2017

In the Art Room: I WROTE A BOOK!




I know I've mentioned this before...but now I can finally make it official because IT'S FINISHED! Guyz, I WROTE A BOOK! 
I still cannot believe it. In fact, I don't think I'll actually believe it until I have a hard copy in my hands. The book is not due to come out until mid-May but it is available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Indigo. It is so surreal to see my name pop up on these sites!

What will you find in this book? 52 CLAY PROJECTS, Y'ALL. Clay that does not require kiln fire. The purpose of this book is to give kids the opportunity to explore creating homemade clays, store-bought air dry clay, paper clay, oven baked clays...you name it, I tried it out in this book. Writing this book, I approached it from an art teacher standpoint: would my students enjoy these clay projects? If you recall my 1950's diner-themed art show last year, then you actually got a glimpse of several projects in the book. For our art show, we used kiln-fired clay which means that the projects in the book are versatile enough to be used with just about any kind of clay you have available. It's a book for those who wish to explore clay with children regardless as to whether or not one has a kiln!

So, how did writing this book come to be? It all started last November. A lovely editor at Quarry books reached out to me and simply asked me if I'd be interested in writing a book. She had seen this Sculpey creation and this paper clay pumpkin and was curious to know if I had more up my sleeve. I'm not even gonna lie: I was so flattered to be asked to write a book that I immediately agreed before discovering that I'd be dreaming up, writing about and taking step-by-step photos of 52 clay projects. 


It wasn't until last February that the paperwork was signed and I was on the hook to write a book. And that's when reality set in. True Confession: I'm a BIG TIME procrastinator. And there ain't no procrastinating when it comes to book writing. There were several deadlines throughout that I had to meet which was a good thing as it kept me working...but it was tough because I had to give up precious time to do so. I spent weekends and nearly the entire month of June in my pj's from morning til night sculpting in clay, snapping a picture, sculpting a little more and snapping another picture. That part was fun. It was the writing the steps out that was more tedious. I mean, I write all the time on this here blog but I write in a very casual tone. I had to sound all legit and professional and yet kid-friendly and such for the book. Thankfully, I was working with wonderful editors who helped tremendously.

June 30th was my final deadline. I made it...and might I add on June 29th. Whew! Snapping hundreds of photos and editing them, writing endless pages of copy and doing rewrites...it all made me seriously consider my life's choices. My husband's favorite question was, "Well, do you regret saying yes?" that answer varied from day to day during the course of the creating. But now I can say Nope! I don't regret it a bit! His next question is usually, "Would you write another book?" Well, I've not been asked...so I don't know my answer. 

Thank you so much for letting me share my exciting news with you. It's so nice to see all that hard work, long hours and pj'ed weekends become something tangible. You'll have to let me know if you get a copy and what you think! 

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In the Art Room: Printed Winter Banners

Greetings, giveaway friends! I thought I'd share with y'all the Printed and Stitched Winter Banners my third grade just finished off. Since they aren't Christmas-y, I'm excited that I can hang 'em in the hallway and keep 'em up for a while. AND hope that they bring us the glorious gift of a snow day. Or five. Not that I'd love a couple of days to stay home in my pajamas and power-watch episodes of Pee-Wee's Playhouse (don't judge) when I could be teaching childrens all day (wink-wink, nudge-nudge). But what am I even talking about, I've got 2 weeks of that kind of sloth-esque behavior in my future. So, lemme get back to the post at hand: Stitched and Printed Winter Banners.
 Ohhhhh, but lemme guess. You only came here to see if you won yesterday's giveaway and to see what's up for grabs today. Well, if you must know, like, right meow, scroll yourself downeth and sneak a peak. Then pop back up here and keep on reading. Go on, I'm waiting... 
 Oh, yay, you came back! I'll get to how you can win today's goodies in just a sec. For now, lemme 'splain these banners.
Since we've been jibber jabbering about Mexico this year in art class, I shared with the kids a couple of prezies on papel picado. We also chatted about other cultures that partake in cut paper designs like Japan (with kirogami) and Germany, to name a few. 

Then we talked snowflakes. Now, I go about teaching snow flaking making all wrong according to Phyl. I gave the kids a 5" square of paper which they folded in half and then in half again thus creating a square. Then they rotated the square to a diamond and folded that in half until they had a triangle. Which they cut into bits for their snowflake-y design. 

Using Geli-Plates, fabric and white tempra paint, we covered the surface of the plate.
Our snowflake was placed atop. I told the kids that it was okay if the flake didn't lie flat. If they fuss with the flake too much, it will leave marks on the surface of the printing plate which could result in a not-so-clean print. 
 Place fabric on top (pattern side down if using patterned fabric) and a piece of recycled "massaging paper" on top of that. Rub the entire surface...
 Remove massaging paper and fabric. Proceed to oooooooh and aahhhhhhh over your awesome print!
 The designs were really lovely and the kids enjoyed seeing the negative of their design.
The fabric we used was 7" square quilters cotton fabric. I happen to get a lotta fabric donations which is super great.
 I dig how this one looks very Aztec-ian.
Printing two separate snowflake designs took us one art class. On the following, the kids created the hangers for the banner. They used three small pieces of Sculpey clay that they swirled together.
 Here's how we kept track of everyone's stick. 
About half way into the second hour long class, I called a meeting at the sewing machines. I explained to the kids that only half of them would have the chance to stitch one day and the rest the next. After a brief sewing demo, I called about 4 kids over to the "sewing table" at a time. When those 4 finished, they became assistants to those up next at the table. 
 Meanwhile, the rest of the kids were either working on their hangers or drawing penguins (to be shared in an upcoming post!). Having all kids on task made my life a lot easier when it came to sticking close to the sewing table. 

And there you have it! And now, the winner...
Congrats, Natalie! (Lawd, my nails! Can you tell I was attempting to hold the paper in such a way to hide that thumb?!) I'll get your Tammis Keefe fabric out to you tomorrow!
Lemme share with you what's in store today. I have two miniature easels with canvases (like, cute!), a super adorable vintage book (the illustrations are amazing! I've already made copies of them so I'll have a set once this is outta my hands) and a VINTAGE Milton and Bradley (before they combined with Crayola) unused watercolor set! Yay!

Here's how you can enter to win (just a lil more work for you today):

1. Please follow me on Twitter! You can find me here.

2. I'm curious...why do you come to this blog? For the lessons, the DIY's or crazy outfits? I often feel this blog might be a pinch all over the place. So, I wonder, are there certain topics you enjoy reading about more than others? I truly appreciate your input.

3. Don't forget to leave your email addy so I can contact you. 

Until tomorrow, friends!



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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In the Art Room: Ceramic Chinese Dragons with Third Grade

 Well, kids, it happened. I got That Note in the mail. You know, the one with the return address from your school.  In the middle of summer that could only mean one of two thangs: it's yer walkin' papers or, worse, a note containing a  listing of "Back to Cruel, er, School" meetings. That's right. Tuesday, July 9th marks the beginning of the end of my summer. Cue loud and obnoxious horror film-esque scream...
Make no mistake, this has left me in a rather fire-breathingly fowl mood. So what better time to share with ya these here Ceramic Chinese Dragons by my Amazingly Awesome Third Grade Artists!
 Since I've been spending my blogging time sharing travel pics and rando Pee-Wee packed posts, I've fallen a pinch behind on my In the Art Room adventures. My apologies. So whatcha see here is a project that I think my third graders would agree was one of their faves. Now, for those of you out there that are kilnless, hang with me as Ima gonna show you how you can create a Chinese dragon with a ceramic clay-ternative. But before we get into all that, lemme tell you how this all came about.
 Because we were learning about all-things-Asian last school year, I settled on the idea of having the kids create Chinese dragons. After a quick search on the interwebs, I found this post by my art teachin' buddy Rina over at K-6 Art. I loved her lesson as she broke it down into baby steps that were just perfect. Now she did her dragons with the younger set (first grade, people and they rocked it!). Since I was doing this with third grade, I knew I'd have to get 'em to step up their dragon makin' game. But first, a lil dragon-y background, emrkay?
Not all dragons are alike, y'all (Y'ALL!! This is off-topic but what else is new: I was recently BUSTED as a Mid-Westerner wearing Southern's clothing {which would be overalls and Crocs, in case you were wondering}. It turns out I've been conjugating "y'all" all wrong! Thank you, kind commenter, for pointing out my Big Fat Hairy Southern Poser mistake. Hopefully my Southern license won't be revoked {penalties include grits restriction and consumption of unsweetened tea}).

WAAAAAAAIT, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah. Dragons. Let's address the Chinese ones first, shall we? They're kinda like Mid-Westerners, after all. They've got a snake-like body with feet like that of an eagle. Which doesn't really make them Mid-Western-esque at all but their affinity for Pabst Blue Ribbon and corn hole does (can somebody please explain that fascination to me?!). Also, they can fly but don't have wings. And they like their possessions deep-fried as is evidenced by the fried pearl (the Chinese dragons are often seen with a pearl which is believed to be their source of power).
 My students were pretty unfamiliar with the characteristics of the Chinese dragon because they're usta seeing this European/Fairy Tale number. The Euro-dragon is much lie a Southerner in that when it says "Bless your heart" it really means "I hate you and wanna breathe fire down your neck". Also, when it's not flying with it's wings, this dragon can be seen wearing copious amounts of seersucker. And loafers without socks. And shirts with GIANT Polo logos. Ahem.
 After that brief chat with the kids, we spent three / thirty-minute art classes crafting these bad boys. On our first day, we began by creating a base for our dragon. For that we pounded our clay onto a texture and into a slab as thick as a cookie. Check out this post to see what I'm talking about. After our texture was in the clay, we cut the clay out with our wood skewers into a choice of base shapes: round, square or flower-like (which was later folded up to create water-y like waves).

With the excess clay cut off from the creation of the base, the kids rolled a thick coil that was about 5" in length. Once that was complete, we draped the base and coil in a damp paper towel, gently placed it into a zip lock bag and wrapped it up until our next 30 minute class.

The following class I gave the kids a rough and rapid idea on how to create their head (see below in just a momento). I don't like to get too detailed because I want them to come up with ideas of their own. I also had loads of Chinese dragon pics available for them to draw ideas from if needed. At the end of that 30, we didn't attach the heads (I had visions of them falling off whilst sealed in the damp bag) but placed them on the base with the coil.

On their third and final day, heads were attached and an environment for the dragon was created. If details like spikes, limbs, horns, fire, you-name-it's were desired, the kids added 'em then. After drying out and being fired (kinda sounds like I'm talking about Lindsay Lohan, donnit?!), the kids spent a coupla days glazing with Mayco's Stroke and Coat. And, viola-ness! Ceramic Chinese Dragons, y'all!


 Now, let's address the kiln less folks in the group, shall we? A similar dragon can be created with one of my fave kiln-free clays: Scupley. Almost every year, my students engage in a Sculpey bead-making project and almost every year, this is all that's left. Lots and lots of white.
 No worries! You can create any color of clay using that white stuff as your base. Case in point, a dragon's head. Just roll the desired shape in white, flatten your color to a paper-thickness, wrap it around your shape and roll smooth.

 Which might look a lil like the left. If you have white spots, fill 'em with some Scupley Band-Aids and roll again.

Now, these are the same rough and rapid directions I have the kids when they were creating their dragon's face. Use that skewer to skewer a mouth. It kinda mashes the shape a bit so you'll have to resculpt that face. But you can do it. 
 I like to use my fingers to create the indentions of eye sockets. Now roll some small spheres (because we don't say "balls" in the art room, ahem) and place them in the sockets. Remember if you are working with ceramic clay, you gotta slip and score. She slips! She scores!
 It's all about the details, y'all. Add some teeth, fire coming outta the mouth, a tongue (although preferably not all three as that's a mouthful. Literally.)
 I created a coil body in the same white-covered-in-green way as the head. Although this time I used two kinds of green and left some of the white areas alone. I was kinda digging the camo look.
 I know, right?
 Attach that head to the coil and shape. Bake in your oven at 275 (I think, check directions. I burn everything on a regular basis so my clay-cooking advice might not be the best) for abouts 15 minutes. And your finished!
 Suriously, yous guise, the kids were so thrilled with their dragons.
 I love watching the kids work with clay. It's a medium that kids who aren't fascinated with 2-dimensional art can really bloom. I mean, this artist was so into his dragon-making, he even created a baby dragon!
 You'll notice that most of the kids included a pearl...and many of them had a story to go along with their dragon. I love the detail in the face on this orange guy.
 And there you have it, y'all! Chinese dragons by the third grade set! Have y'all ever done a project like this before? If so, I'd love to hear what your students created. Special thanks to Rina for the inspirational-lesson!

Chat at Y'ALL soonish!

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